The Jefferson Gastroesophageal Center is fortunate to have a trio of specialized nurses to help patients prepare for the esophagectomy procedure, coordinate all of the required tests and follow-up, and provide support through any chemotherapy/radiation and the recovery process.
During their hospital stay, patients and families lean on inpatient nurse practitioner Kate Thistle, CRNP. Kate’s support during the initial postop days and explanations prior to discharge are critical to start a smooth recovery. Often the most challenging rehabilitation comes in the days and weeks following discharge.
Nurse practitioner Lori Pellegrino, MSN, CRNP, has spent the last seven years caring for esophagectomy patients in the practice of general surgeon Ernest L. Rosato, MD, FACS. She is familiar with the lengthy and challenging recovery – and is passionate about helping esophagectomy patients and their caregivers navigate the process. Lori notes that the recovery brings significant changes to quality of life. For many patients, one of the most challenging aspects is nutrition. The transition from five to seven days of a feeding tube to eating with a “new,” smaller stomach can take many weeks and introduce a lot of frustration.
“Appetite is often emotional,” she says. “After this surgery, patients have to learn that there’s only so much room down there to hold food.” To help, Lori has developed a protocol that outlines clear recommendations for what to eat, when and in what quantities. She also spends a great deal of time providing one-to-one support on the phone.
Sung Whang, MSN, CRNP, CTTS, is Lori’s counterpart in the practice of thoracic surgeon Nathaniel Evans, MD, FACS. In response to patient requests, Sung recently formed the Jefferson Esophagectomy Survivorship and Support Group that meets in person and online. This newly formed group offers patients and caregivers a forum to share experiences, gather new information and reunite with their Jefferson physicians and surgeons.
“This surgery is a game-changer,” says Sung. “We try to address all the issues – diet and nutrition, speech and swallow therapy, help obtaining the necessary tube feeds and medical equipment and providing tools to help caregivers, who are often exhausted. We’re there for them every step of the way.”
Patients and family members can join the online support group at facebook.com/ groups/EsophagectomyAtJeff
"On the Job: Lori Pellegrino, MSN, CRNP; Sung Whang, MSN, CRNP, CTTS; Kate Thistle, CRNP,"
Jefferson Surgical Solutions: Vol. 10
, Article 7.
Available at: https://jdc.jefferson.edu/jss/vol10/iss1/7